Lita Ford’s CD, Living Like a Runaway is perfectly named. Not only was Ford a member of one of the best all-girl groups ever, The Runaways, from 1975 until 1979, but, as she explains in the press release for the CD, “There have been days in my life when I ran away, when I was unhappy and had to get out of my previous life.” Listening to these songs, it is easy to see how that was the case.
Anyone who has ever been in a painful relationship, manipulated, or abused any level will identify with the pain and the struggle in these songs. It is not a happy set of songs, but it is a raw, honest, brave set, and not only that, it is excellent, heavy rock and roll with searing guitar from one of the few successful female rock guitarists, a master of the instrument at that.
The names of the songs here tell the story: “Branded,” “Hate,” “The Mask,” “Asylum,” “Devil in My Head,” “Love 2 Hate U,” “A Song to Slit Your Wrists By.” “Living Like a Runaway,” which has a classic rock vibe, fills in some of the autobiographical details, and “Relentless” expresses Ford’s determination to rise above it all and just keep on singing and playing the music that has helped her get through it all.
“Hate” is actually not a song about Ford’s life, but a biting social commentary about how a quiet boy becomes a criminal and how society loves and breeds hate. It is disquieting, but it sends a powerful message.
“Mother” is a heartbreaking song, told from the point of view of a mother who is forced to leave a bad relationship, even though it hurts a child she loves.
This is not a CD which should be listened to in pieces. The songs form a whole journey, and that was intentional. Ford says in the press release that she was inspired by Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon to create an album that would work together as a whole to tell a deeper story. Ford wrote most of the lyrics with producer Gary Hoey and lyricist Michael Dan Ehmig. “A Song to Slit Your Wrists By” was written by Nikki Sixx, and given an industrial flair and extra tough attitude by Ford.
These are the song listings for the standard jewel case version, and the limited edition digipak version of Living Like a Runaway. There is also an exclusive iTunes version with a bonus song, “Boiling Point,” and a double gatefold LP version that has two extra songs, “Bad Neighborhood,” and a cover of Elton John’s “The Bitch is Back,” recorded with his blessings. This review is based on the standard jewel case version.
The bottom line is that this is brilliant, heavy rock and roll with lyrics that are dark, brave and honest. Ford dares to reveal much about the darker side of fame and her own personal demons while exhibiting courage and the ability to walk away and start over. This is a CD worth listening to, one with real emotional depth and lasting impact.